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Monday, June 25, 2018

The Week in EPL: Manchester United, Liverpool reveal defensive frailties; Ozil proves critics wrong

With the weekends fixtures now complete, a look at the major talking points from the weekend.

Written by Saahil Mehta | Updated: October 8, 2014 7:03:58 pm
Danny Welbeck and Ozil combined brilliantly throughout the game against Aston Villa (Source: Reuters) Danny Welbeck and Ozil combined brilliantly throughout the game against Aston Villa (Source: Reuters)

With the weekends fixtures now complete, takes a look at the major talking points from the weekend

Lacklustre Liverpool disappoint

Another abject performance against a spirited West Ham saw the Merseyside club lose their third match of their opening five fixtures. The team lacked quality, desire and penetration, and was completely outfoxed by Sam Allardyce’s team at the Boleyn ground.

There is a great deal of work to be done by Brendan Rodgers as this side looks nowhere near the quality that surprised us all last season. Liverpool, without Sturridge’s nifty movement, seem to lack quality up front.


There is uncertainty in their movement, and even with the new additions, the defence looks shakier than last season. The midfield is looking bereft of ideas and lacking the quality to boss games while the forwards are unable to press from the front forcing them to drop deep to collect the ball. There seems to be a necessary overreliance on 19-year old Raheem Sterling, which, for the youngster, maybe too much pressure at such a young age.

Talk of losing Suarez was always inevitable, and it was clear from the outset that without him in the side, Liverpool were never going to reach the 100-goal mark again this season; Balotelli is working hard for the team, but cannot reproduce the persistent harrying of defenders that Suarez did. If this form continues, it is difficult to see Liverpool finishing in the top 4 come May.

Leicester expose United’s weakness

Cruising at 3-1 against newly promoted Leicester City, nobody would have anticipated the swift demise of United. Yet, however, Leicester, and Jamie Vardy in particular, exposed the biggest flaw in the United setup this season – the defense.


Despite controversial decisions made by Mark Clattenburg, the Manchester club has only themselves to blame after costly errors by defenders Rafael and Tyler Blackett gave away two needless penalties to throw the game away.

For an hour or so, United were exhilarating going forward with Di Maria involved in most of their attacks. Rooney looked sharp, relishing his new role as captain and creator-in-chief.

Even with all the attacking flair on show, it is the defense that is causing the team all the problems. Wing backs Marcos Rojo and Rafael were caught out of position all too often, while Tyler Blackett is young and inexperienced; his red card for Leicester’s fifth proof of that. For all the poise and grit that Daley Blind’s play brings, United still need to add another midfield controller to their ranks.

With another damning defeat for United, and more injuries and suspensions to defensive players, Louis Van Gaal has vital decisions to make for the immediate future.

Ozil at home

A change in setup from Arsene Wenger saw Mesut Özil return to the centre of the park, as a 3-minute blitzkrieg from Arsenal produced 3 quick goals against Aston Villa; who missed the chance to go top of the table.

It is abundantly clear that Özil looks lost on the flanks, and can only influence a game when played in his preferred position through the centre. His movement and silky passing was on show as he bagged a goal and assist to help the Gunners beat an Aston Villa side that has had a surprisingly strong start to the campaign.

Danny Welbeck and Özil combined brilliantly throughout the game, and this blossoming partnership could be worth watching over the course of the season. Welbeck, for all his doubters, is an upgrade on Giroud. His work-rate and commitment to the cause when things are not happening up front, is indisputable.

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